Overheard on the Underground

‘She was wearin’ vese proper, like na’y freads like an’–’

‘Like wha’?’

‘Like vose nice like all-in-one fings, righ’? An’–’

‘Wha’, like a jumpsuit fing?’

‘Yeah, like one of vem fings, but proper like, you know wha’ I’m sayin’? Yeah?’

‘Yeah?’

‘Yeah, like proper polish lookin’. Like someone took a rag an’ hawked a bogey, gave it a nice shine, you know wha’ I’m sayin’, like?’

‘Yeah and so wha’? She jus’ bite your ’ead off or somefin’?’

‘Yeah! Like, yeah! Like…’

‘Well, like wha’ she say, like?’

‘Well she jus’ goes, Vat’s mine!, but posh like. An’ I’s jus’ finkin’…FUCK…! You know wha’ I’m sayin’?’

‘Yeah…fuck…! But…was tha’ it?’

‘Yeah! Well nah, but I was outta vere, you know? Like, she’s screaming ‘er head off like a bloody banshee an’–’

‘Like a wha’?’

‘A bloody banshee an’–’

‘What’s a banshee?’

‘It’s… it’s like a…it’s a lady…but a bug lady. A bad one.’

‘A bad lady bug? You for real?’

‘Yeah it’s yeah, like… evil like.’

‘Evil lady bug?’

‘Yeah…’

‘Never ’eard ov it.’

‘Somefin’ like tha’ anyway…’

‘I fink you made it up.’

‘Nah! I dunno, I forget. But it’s somefin’… Anyway, listen! I ran all the way down Oxford Street, down t’station, jumped ’em barriers an’ the rest is ’istory.’

‘D’you reckon she’s just like still standin’ there, shocked like?’

‘Yeah! I reckon she’s prob’ly given birf to a host of banshee bloody babies by now!’

‘So where is it?’

‘Wha’?’

‘Wha’ you took.’

‘Oh! Right. Right ‘ere…’

‘You stole ‘er shoppin’?’

‘Nah, vat’s just the bag it come in. Look inside ‘ere.’

‘Nurofen?’

‘Yeah!’

‘Wha’? You go’an ’eadache or somefin’? You due on your rags?’

‘I might do. Or…someone else. I’m gonna sell ’em off.’

‘Wha’, you fink you’re a drug dealer now?’

‘Yeah! I could be proper gangster, like. Work the streets. Make some dough.’

‘You fink you’re gonna turn a dime off of providing ibuprofen to evil, premenstrual lady bugs wiv an ’eadache?’

‘Yeah…some ov’em got codeine as well…’

‘Not vese ones.’

‘Well anyway, obviously I’ll branch out at some point. But we all go’a start somewhere, don’t we, eh?’

‘If you say so.’

 

Polish  // Natty ~ The Daily Post ~ Daily Prompt

Frank’s Cave Secrets

‘Why are you standing over there?’ He called back to me.

‘Are you serious?’ My feet were glued to the undergrowth, my clammy hands were stuck to my sides. ‘There’s no way I’m going in there.’

‘Come on. Don’t be a pussy!’ He hissed back.

When I didn’t move, he threw up his arms and turned on his heel. He muttered something to the sound of Such a girl as I watched him disappear into the dark cave. The dense array of trees towered all around me, their branches looming down like arms ready to snatch me up. The silence in the air was broken only by a soft rustling breeze as it made it’s way through their top-most spindly fingers. The bright moon had managed to illuminate the clearing just enough to give the shadows a blueish hue.

‘Frank?’ I called, ‘Frank, I don’t like this. I think we should go home now!’

I waited. I waited a second too long. When he didn’t answer, my heart started racing. Those finger branches picked up the breeze and threw it down towards the forest floor, kicking up little explosions of leaves and twigs. Again and again, these wind bombs hit the forest floor. They gained momentum and strength until great fountains of undergrowth cascaded all around me. A great whooshing sound rose and fell with each gust.

‘Frank!?’ I called out again, louder this time, more urgent. ‘FRANK?!’

‘Sissy!’ His voice was distant but I was sure I had heard it.

‘Frank? Are you ok?’ I called back.

Sissy… came the voice again. My heart jumped. Am I imagining things? Is that really Frank or just the wind? The noise was almost deafening now, but I took a big breath, shut my eyes tight and threw my voice out above it, ‘FRAAAAAANK! WHERE ARE YOU?!’

I wish I’d never opened my eyes because just at that moment, a thundering hum bellowed out from the depth of the cave.

Continue reading “Frank’s Cave Secrets”

Any Other Day

Rita had woken up every day for the last thirty five years to that alarm clock. After first switching it off, she would reach for her wide brimmed glasses sitting beneath the beside lamp and place them on her nose. Her tired legs would swing off the bed and she would sit upright on the edge for a few moments in her nightgown. She would dress herself in that same uniform each morning, a freshly pressed red polo shirt and dark blue trousers, before slowly making her way down the stairs to the kitchen. Once there, she would make a pot of tea in the same tea-stained teapot and boil one egg on the stove for exactly three minutes. She would eat her breakfast in the kitchen at the small round wooden table and wonder at what the day would bring.

Rita never had to wonder very hard. Each day had been pretty much the same for all of those thirty five years. She would get in her white hatchback car and drive herself the thirteen minute drive to the local co-op where she would work the till from nine until twelve. She would sit in the back office and eat her cheese and pickle white bread sandwich from twelve until half past and then return to her till until five o’clock. Just a minute after five, she would pick a TV dinner out of the fridge and drive herself the thirteen minute drive home again. Once her dinner was microwave hot and sitting on her dinner tray in front of her sunken arm chair, Rita would switch on the evening television schedule of trivia, nature and reality shows. As nine o’clock approached, Rita made sure her dinner packaging was tossed away in the rubbish bin, the tea pot and saucepan were clean and ready for the morning, and the lights downstairs were all switched off. She would check the front door was locked before making the slow ascend up the stairs to her ensuite bathroom. There she would repeat the nightly routine of bathing and brushing before swinging her old legs up onto the bed, placing her glasses on the night stand, switching off the bedside lamp and taking all of two minutes to fall asleep flat on her back.

Every day. For thirty five years.

Until the day Rita woke up to her alarm, put on her glasses, sat up in bed, dressed in her uniform, ate her breakfast, drove to work and discovered that the co-op she had worked at every day of those thirty five years had completely burnt to the ground. Continue reading “Any Other Day”

Flickering Lights By My Window

For as long as I can remember, at the same time each night a flickering light has passed by my window. The light has always been followed by a shadow at precisely 11:59pm. It has been like a game, trying to catch them with my eyes before they disappeared into the night. I can never quite make them out and so couldn’t be sure but a million and one dreams have floated up about who or what they were and where they were headed. Whenever Winter has come I would be certain it was an old, homeless man trudging through the cold and wet cradling a grumbling stomach, however, by Springtime it was a young woman flying to or from her lover’s bed. In Summer, a dodgey teenager shuffled by carrying a six pack of beers under arm (and another six already fermenting in his belly) however by Autumn, a young girl, who had lost her way playing beneath the blanket of joyful leaves by day, now crept passed with wide, scared eyes surrounded by dark, looming skies.

I became accustomed to waiting for them before dropping off to sleep each night. But this is where my problem arises: last night they didn’t come. In fact, the previous night they hadn’t come either, or the night before that. Come to think of it, it had been a whole week since the last time I’d seen them. I haven’t so much as slept even a wink. No sleep has fallen. No dreams have come. No flickering lights have passed by. Day and night my mind is plagued by thoughts of them – where have they gone? Why aren’t they coming back? What if something terrible has happened? Could that poor man have died of starvation? Or the young woman strangled by a jealous lover? Perhaps the drunk teen was stabbed in a service station stealing a Mars Bar or that poor little girl has been snatched away by a drooling pedophile, never to be seen again…

Wherever they are, they have stolen my sleep and dragged it off to wherever they have ended up. My poor sleep: never to be seen again? My delicate sanity: snatched away from me?! I can’t go on like this! I’ll spend my life tossing and turning through the night and drooping in dark circles through the day. I’ll go mad! How long can a person go without sleep before the crazies sink in? Or worse – until the body just gives up and crawls into death’s cave hollering ‘I didn’t sign up for this shit!’ over it’s decaying shoulder?

In my opinion, not long enough. I have no choice. I have to find out what has happened to them. I have to fix this. I have to save them, to rescue my sleep, to free myself.

Tonight. It begins. Tonight I will venture outside my window. I will pass by beneath it and move off in the exact same direction I myself have witnessed countless times before. I’ll spend the day making preparations: gathering food scraps for the old man, a knife for the young woman, cash for the teenager, a mobile phone for the little girl, a bucket of grit for me…

And then all that will be left to do is wait.

lights-on-window

Candle ~ The Daily Post ~ Daily Prompt

Getting Older by Sarah Kay

Whenever I hurt myself

My mother says it is the universe’s way of telling me to slow down.

She also tells me to put some coconut oil on it.

It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is.

She often hides stones underneath my pillow when I come home for the weekend.

The stones are a formula for sweet dreams and clarity.

I dig them out from the sheets, 

She tells me what each one is for.

My throat hurts.

So she grinds black pepper into a spoonful of honey, makes me eat the entire thing.

My mother knows how to tie knots like a ship captain

But doesn’t know how I got that sailors mouth.

She falls asleep in front of the TV

Only until I turn it off.

Shouts, “I was watching that!”

The sourdough she bakes on Friday’s is older than I am.

She sneaks it back and forth across the country when she flies

By putting the starter in small containers next to a bag of carrots.

“They think it’s ranch dressing.” she giggles.

She makes tea by hand.

Nettles, slippery elm, tumeric, cinnamon.

My mother is a recipe for warm throats and belly laughs.

Once she fell off of a ladder when I was three.

She says all she worried about was my face as I watched her fall.

Listen to Sarah Kay’s poem “Getting Older” and a conversation about craft with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz as featured on the podcast “Live from the Amy Clampitt House” for the Indiefeed Poetry Podcast here.

my inbox killed my darlings

She hurtles after him. A single neon street lamp barely reveals the aftermath of a road attacked by storm clouds.Wind bellowing through her hair. Full flight beneath her feet. Anticipation burning in her chest. Stealth glowing behind her cat eyes.

My eyes flutter open.

She is gaining on him.

Roll over.

His hair slicked with sweat.

iPhone reads 4:56am. Unplug it.

His heart roars.

Roll over beneath the covers.

He’s losing ground.

Swipe screen.

And still, he runs. Crying out to his thighs, his biceps, his blood to CUT JUMP MOVE NOW! But –

Flashing number seven, hovering over my mailbox icon.

But he –

Nibbling rodents of unusual sizes: Qantas Travel and AirBnB spam-mites.

Dear Erin, Have you renewed your subscription to…DELETE; Dear Erin, Unfortunately, Michael has revoked his application but the good news is that mould would like to continue squatting…NEXT; Hi Erin! This incredible raw food offer expires…NOW.

Dear Alison, Do you think Mr Mould would consider signing a five to ten year lease? Fuck knows he’s in arrears as it is. Might as well grow some balls while he’s at it. Actually stake his claim to that shoebox of steaming green gunge that we call ‘My Asset of Intelligent Potential Wealth’ and see if we can take him for everything he’s got.

BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE SELECT ALL DELETE

Ooh…hang on…

It’s that petulant child, LinkdIn. (LinkDin? LINKDin?)

Do you know this guy?

I dunno – do I?

He thinks he knows you.

Aren’t you supposed to tell me this stuff?

He’s been looking at your profile.

Ok. Interesting. Young?

Your age.

Handsome?

Naturally.

Industry?

Film.

Come on… ‘Freelance’?! Does that really count?

He knows you’ve looked at his profile now.

Shit. Fuck you, linkdin.

Wait –

Does that make me more or less interesting? My profile has nothing on it. Why are all these strangers asking to ‘connect’ with me and my nothingness?

I should update my profile.

Make it worth their while.

Hey. When did she become a ‘Copywriter’?

I should apply for that job.

Make my life worth my while.

I can’t really be bothered though.

Oh dear God…

Oh…holy fuck.

FUCK YOU LINKDIN

How the fuck do I spell that anyway?! (I should check before I post this…should I post this?)

SHUT UP! Look!

Oh no…no no no no no…NO

Cat Girl and Lion Heart Boy lie splattered across the highway of my mind.

What have I done?!

A horrific homicide of dreams haemorrhaging into the dark, intangible interweb.

But I only took my eyes off them for a moment!

That’s all it takes.

Help! Somebody?! Anybody?! Please!! Help me!

An ambulance wails a distant cry.

It pierces my heart.

Yes! Yes! Oh, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Come! Quickly!

It’s coming closer…

Hurry!!

But it’s too late.

No!

I know it.

No! No! No…oh, no…

I stand over them for that short instant, watching the light drain out from behind their eyes. Almost as fast as they came into being, they are gone again.

Man…

Life is so short. So unfair.

My poor darlings…

A heavy breath falls out of my nostrils.

Well…

iPhone reads 4:58am.

I’m up now.

Plug it in.

I should make the most of it.

Roll over.

Maybe go for a run.

Eyes flitter and close.

But sleep never comes.

cut. reset for the wide

And if there is a trapdoor will it lead me into the deep, winding corridors of an underground fairground?
Where aluminium horses dance in circles, and mouths agape on clown faces that gulp at the sweet scent of soft pink fairy floss. And tall, tall men walk in wide, wide shoes and short, fat women rise high above on skyscraper stilts and smile down upon us with a secret in their soul and a stench in their chests. Where the taste of cheap bourbon floats on our taste buds as we swim through lion-hearts and snickering monkey minds, hand in hand under a sea of stars. A dangling killer python swinging recklessly beside me, haunting me with its’ neon sugar striped rage. Your heart, a thunderous city of blood and sweat and tears crashing against the distant sound of waves. But our own secret lies with that snake and heart and sea as they lie in wait, poised to lasso any freak or fool who dares to take us down. And so we fearlessly take our seat atop the penny-farthing wheel of life and cycle through the dawn of ages.

Is that where we will be?

Or if it’s not in a fairground, can it be a long walk down to that rocky shore, beneath the rollicking waves and into our seabed upon the ocean floor?
Where we can leave this airborne world behind for our deep sea farming destinies, growing great muscles of courage that form calluses and mould into hard shells upon the rock face of our love.
And when the fishermen come to carve our love away and feast upon their hard earned cash, we’ll flex and bend with indulgent supply, and watch as their souls start to burn with that beautiful aphrodisiac of delight.

Or are you on that speeding train holding out your hand as I slowly lose ground, my legs burning, my chest heaving my bones, my skin, my heart forwards,
Until you charmingly adorn the drivers cap and make proud racket with bursts of steam and hooting laughter so loud that it calls all the world to a halt?

Or is that you in disguise upon that small throne in the corner of the dark, wooden coffee shop, nose sniffing the pages of a novel, neck deep in the mist of another world entirely? If I dive into that paper bound locket and poke my head out from the other side will your eyes see for the first time that treasure chest of adventures that you went searching for? Will we still act surprised when the trees between those pages melt back into the earth, flesh falls away from bones and the sun stands still just long enough to dissolve that mirror between us into a pane of glass, so that we can finally stand face to face with the truth?

I would search the ends of the earth for you and leave no stone or wave or fish or wheel or star or page unturned.

But love…?

What if I just missed you for the rest of my days?

Where would I be then?